Angrily, I got up and walked around the corner of the fence to the tree from which he had pitched. It was right on my side of the ditch and fence. Maybe I should have set up closer to him. I wrestled with the what-ifs.

I moved farther down the fence trying to get a fix on how the land was laid out. I heard another gobble a good 200 yards through the woods and shook my head. No chance now. Just for the heck of it, I started cutting like crazy, if for no other reason than to pull some final salutory response from my nemesis.

When I did, a thunderous gobble rocketed back from a mere 80 yards away. I was still standing up, decoy in hand, when I spotted a white head and large, spread fan running toward me through the woods. Whoa! I dropped down awkwardly by the too thin tree I was standing against. The bird caught the movement and I did the only thing I could, I held the decoy up in front of me and moved it a couple of times. The strutter, with another longbeard in tow, continued forward. I plunked the decoy in the ground away from me and got my gun up.

Soon other hens filtered through the woods behind the tom as he continued to strut a mere 35 yards away in the open. I could have crushed him at any time, but he was across the fenceline, which stretched like the Berlin Wall in front of me a mere 15 yards out. How was I going to call this boy to within 14 yards?!? “Not going to happen,” I admitted to myself.

I rustled leaves with my foot, occassionally purred and did just enough to keep him interested for close to 30 minutes. Several times he acted as if he wanted to leave, but would turn around and come back. At one time slipping to within 25 yards of me, just across the ditch behind the fence. There he locked up behind a blown over tree and remained.

I even set my gun down, accepting defeat. Well, not really, I draw is what I called it in my mind. I could have shot him had he not been on the other property, I told myself. And he still got to go on living. So it was a draw.

Then suddenly, I saw him drop out of strut, hop across the log and step down into the ditch in my direction. As he disappeard from view, I quickly pulled my gun back up and didn’t make a peep. He was searching, and a large white head suddenly popped up on my side of the ditch and just across the fence from me. The bird stood looking at me from a mere16 yards away. I needed another yard.

Luckily, the strands of the wire border were gappy and drooping in places. There was a large hole in the wire right where the bird was standing and I had aimed my gun at that point assuming if he was going to cross, it would have to be there.

The tom peered at the jake decoy, which had its back turned toward him, and stepped through the hole in the fence.

BOOOMMMMM! The hunt was over, and never did toting a bird back into camp ever, ever feel so good.